A value is a person’s or group’s conception of the desirable—what they hold to be ideal and of value (Kluckhohn, 1951). People develop values during different phases of human development, and values are primarily influenced by a person’s social interactions, especially how they are raised. Values are closely related to beliefs—what people believe to be true. As such, people tend to think their values are “right” (McCombs School of Business – The University of Texas at Austin, n.d.).

People typically act according to their values (Verplanken and Holland, 2002). For example, a person who believes that land belongs to all people and that no one should own it would most likely try to find ways to live without owning property. A person who values telling the truth will probably tell it even though it may inconvenience them. Values aren’t always precise determinants of action. People sometimes ignore or suspend their values when their attitude about an activity or their goals outweighs those values.

Researching Values

Researching values can reveal a person’s deep-rooted beliefs. This research can also reveal the ways people have rejected values imposed on them by others. When designers carefully consider values, they gain insights into beliefs that guide people’s actions. Knowing a person’s values enables designers to select messaging and media that do not contradict deeply held beliefs.

Questions to Ask

  • What guides this person’s decisions?
  • If no one were around to witness this person’s actions, what would this person do?
  • How did this person develop these beliefs?
  • Whose values were these before this person adopted them?

Look For

  • Where they spend their money (causes, possessions, experiences)
  • What they spend their time doing
  • Who they spend time with

Related Concepts

  • Needs
  • Beliefs



Updated: June 18, 2024 11:00 am
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